Ride bikes. Have fun. Feel good.

Versilia Team Time Trial

Paul Blackmore writes…

Well for the third year running I have had to sacrifice lay in’s on a Sunday to get out with the rest of you in an effort to at least be fit enough to keep up in the team time trial in Italy. This is quite a special event, it consists of teams of eight riders, over a course of 38.5 kms, and this year has attracted 190 teams from all over Italy. It’s a dead flat course with just two turns and the wind off the sea to deal with. The course is completely closed to traffic and you have motorbike outrider and your team car following, shouting out ‘encouragement’.

I joined up with my brother racing for our Italian club Bike Village Ciucci, but this year we were joined by six super vets from ‘up north’. The youngest was born in 1950, the oldest in 1947. They are super because they are all National age group champions in time trials. Despite having two youngsters in the team we qualified for a category C group, with average age of 50+.

So I touched down late on Tuscan soil and an hour later was on the bike to meet the others and do the usual get to know you session on the bikes. That was a bit hit and miss but given we’d all been around a bit and know how to follow a wheel, wasn’t really a problem. Back at base it was time to put the feet up and wait for dinner, bikes in the van ready to be transported to the start. You won’t be surprised to know we had pasta for dinner.

Luckily we had a late 12.20 start time, so plenty of time to get ready, get over there, and watch the wind get up! Well that’s what Dennis always writes. With all the bikes lined up when we arrived we did actually look like a group of time triallist, sporting five disc wheels, some HEDs and some deep rims.

With the warm up done, confidence fairly high we got to the start. Weather was sunny and warm, as usual! My new TT bike, which I’d ridden once on the road felt good except the bottom bracket, which had decided to come a bit loose. But no time worry, we were up the ramp and soon on our way. We were quickly up to speed, felt fairly comfortable and the whole team was going through. Its about 9kms to the first roundabout where we turn, but by this time, one guy had stopped coming through. We then had the long section heading south towards Viaraggio of about
19kms. Often this is wind assisted but this time didn’t seem any different. My brother stopped coming through and then I started feeling a bit iffy, wondering if I could keep up this pace to the finish. But there were five guys never missing a turn, two slightly stronger but all maintaining pace. I decided to miss a few turns every now and again to pace myself through.

Finally down to the far turn and we still hadn’t caught anyone, or even seen anyone. I was thinking I’m getting a bit pooped now but you know after that turn its just 10ks to the finish. We lost one guy altogether but the five plus regular efforts from the two youngsters kept the pace high and smooth and as luck would have it with 1k to go we saw two teams in front of us. The finish sprint was interesting as three teams all battled to cross the line, but unlike the other two teams we kept together and finished in 47mins 6seconds. After my brother felt as through we were quite a bit slower in terms of speed then last year, under Mr Dennis’s supervision, but my legs told me something different. So we were pleasantly surprised to average 48.7 kmph, just 0.2 down on last year over a shorter course. Those super vets sure were good.

The Category C prize was a formality, over 2 minutes quicker than the team that won last year. Overall we made 25th, the winners VeloLine recording 44:39, just 2 seconds quicker than Max Lelli SeiSystems with local rivals (to Bike Village) Baglini 3rd, one more second behind.

We stayed for the pasta party and although the guys had to drive back ‘up north’, also stayed for the prize presentation presented by Michele Bartoli, where we picked up our medals and a goody box. I left my bike with the team mechanic to sort out the bottom bracket, which didn’t seem to have got any worse, and we headed home to rest and take away pizza in the evening.